When Michael McDowell had himself photographed up a telephone pole in Ranelagh at the last election with a poster saying “Overall majority – no thanks” he cast himself as the defender of the people against any abuse of power.
The bould Mike was master of the universe, a superhero who would thwart any attempt to drag us back to cute-hoorism and the deal-making of the big tent at the Galway races.
For Mike is a liberal. Not any old liberal but a Liberal in the European mode. A man in the tradition of the Enlightenment which culminated in the French and American Revolutions, toppling the despotism of the aristocracy and heralding in the age of Republicanism.
Whew! What a pedigree! Our Michael has his sights set high.
One of the lessons learned from the past five hundred years or so is about power. Specifically about the separation of powers. Those who make the law cannot apply the law. Those who administer justice must be independent of those who wield power.
This might sound like woolly liberalism preventing, as it does, your local constable from giving your local blackguard a well deserved few slaps around the head. But there’s nothing woolly about it because wherever power is allowed to go unchecked it eventually destroys everything in its path.
Imagine if the gardai in Donegal had not been called to account. Not only would it have destroyed the lives of the people caught up in the corruption – it would have destroyed the gardai as well.
That’s the lesson. Taking shortcuts ultimately doesn’t do anyone any favours.
A garda investigation aparently found some evidence that Frank Connolly could have been the recipient of a false passport and that he may have travelled to Colombia in 2001.
No charges were brought against Frank Connolly. In the meantime Mr Connolly landed the job of CEO of the new, non-state, Centre for Public Enquiry (CPE).
Using garda intelligence, Michael McDowell set out to have Frank Connolly removed from his job. He passed on the details of the garda investigation to Chuck Feeney, the man paying the CPE bills. He also passed on the information to the Irish Independent. Consequently, and with absolutely nothing proven against him, Frank Connolly has lost his livlihood.
Michael McDowell has made a number of assertions for which there is no evidence. There is no evidence the Frank Connolly travelled to Colombia. There is no evidence of any payment from the FARC to the Provos.
But above all there is no evidence that Frank Connolly would, or indeed could have used his position to undermine the state.
Michael McDowell has arrogated to himself power in the style of the monarchs of old. It is he who has devalued the standing of this Republic. If he wants to attack Frank Connolly he should no do so without the resources of the state at his back. This is despotic power plain and simple.
Michael McDowell has operated a form of intellectual internment against Frank Connolly. He has put him in a legal place, akin to Guantanamo Bay, where his rights as a citizen of this republic has been disabled.
Obviously Guantanamo Mike thinks this is ok because he’s a good guy. Would he like a future Sinn Fein Minister of Justice to have the same power?